The Complete Guide to Purchasing a Hermès Bag

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During lockdown, several of us looked through investment transactions. Lyst reports that demand for Hermès bags has increased by 433% overall. In spite of the fact that handbag usage was at an all-time low, more customers than ever were looking at some major trophy pieces. Due to the cultural significance of the two Hermès shapes, buyers frequently have fantasies about purchasing a Birkin or Kelly bag. However, considering its starting resale price of roughly £500, the maison’s Herbag, a canvas and leather pocketbook fondly known as the Kelly’s “younger sister,” is a more practical entry-level option, especially for first-time buyers.

History of the Birkin Bag

Celebrities and handbag aficionados clamor for the Hermès Birkin bag, which has become an international fashion icon. Established in 1837 as a Paris harness workshop, Hermès’s specialization evolved over time, with its first handbag unveiled in 1922. The Kelly, a predecessor to the Sac à Dépêches, was introduced in 1935 by Émile-Maurice, who wanted to create a bag for his wife. Renamed the Kelly in 1977 after Grace Kelly, the bag has become a fashion classic. Other iconic bags include the Constance in 1967 and the Birkin in 1984.

Jane Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas, the CEO of Hermès, collaborated on the design of the Birkin bag. They first spoke in 1984 while traveling from Paris to London. Dumas was informed by Birkin that she lacked a purse with the necessary features for her active lifestyle. The Birkin 40 in stylish calfbox leather was conceived as a result of this discussion. The Birkin’s functional style, which includes two wrapped handles, a flap top, clou “feet,” and a lock clasp, is still popular today.

All Birkin bags after the first bag did not have a strap, however the original bag did have one.

What Makes Hermès Bags So Special?

No matter if you decide to take the difficult, frequently years-long route to owning a Birkin, there is no disputing that both the Kelly and the Birkin are world-famous icons. But what is it about Hermès bags that attracts so many people from around the world who look for where to buy Hermès bags? Hermès bags are handcrafted solely by artisans using only the finest leathers. Before being trusted with a Birkin or Kelly, each craftsman who cuts, sews, and polishes a bag must have trained for at least five years in the Hermès design house. The labor-intensive process produces beautiful results.

Thanks to its distinctive Hermès craftsmanship and exclusivity, the Birkin continues to be a sought-after Hermès bag. A Birkin bag is manufactured by a skilled artisan over the course of at least 18 hours, and it is code-stamped with information about the artisan who made it, the workshop where it was made, and the year it was made. Customers need to have already made purchases from Hermès in order to acquire a Birkin straight from the company. The style of the Birkin bag sent to boutiques is rarely known in advance, and Hermès only permits boutiques to buy a limited quantity of Birkins on a bi-annual basis.
Further, information about the number of Hermès bags made, in which colors, leathers, and styles as well as when and where they may be shipped is kept secret. For security reasons, even the Sales Manager (SM) and Sales Associates (SA) at any Hermès boutique know nothing about the timing or contents of any shipments until the designer bags arrive at the boutique.

Customers are therefore forced to wait impatiently for the style they want to become available or make due with the Birkin bag the sales assistant has in stock. The Birkin is the Hermès bag that people look for the most.

Cost Of A Birkin

The cost of a Birkin bag is based on a variety of factors, including fabric, size, antiquity, and condition. Although the Birkin bag has a variety of hardware alternatives, choosing one over another is more a matter of taste and has less of an impact on the bag’s pricing. There are various typical sizes for the Birkin, including the Birkin 25, Birkin 30, Birkin 35, and Birkin 40. The mini Birkin 15 and Faubourg Birkin 20, which are both limited editions, are the smallest Birkins. The Birkin 25 and Birkin 30 are the two most widely used bag sizes.

A Birkin purchased directly from Hermès can cost anything from $10,000 for a leather purse to more than $200,000 for a crocodile and diamond Birkin. A store-new diamond Himalayan Birkin bag may cost over $400,000 at Sotheby’s, while an older leather Birkin 35 costs $15,000 there. The majority of Birkin bags offered at Sotheby’s are leather, retail for $20,000 to $30,000, and are either the Birkin 25 or Birkin 30. An exotic Birkin bag often costs over $40,000 for an alligator or crocodile purse, and between $25,000 and $35,000 for an ostrich bag.

Does the Birkin Have a Waiting List?

When buying a Birkin or Kelly bag was first introduced, there was a lengthy (up to six-year) waiting list. It’s possible that the luxury bag you (finally) got a call about was in a significantly different color, leather, size, or hardware from what you asked. Eventually, it was decided that the Hermès Birkin Bag waiting list was “unfair” and it was removed. Although some SAs may still offer to add your name to a waiting list for the Birkin bag of your dreams, this is merely a social gesture and makes no real commitment.

Where and how to Purchase a Birkin Bag

Where can you purchase a Birkin bag is the next, more important question. Your ultimate fate can be reached in one of two very distinct ways: at a Hermès store or via an independent dealer who has been thoroughly screened.

On the Hermès website, Birkin bags are not available for purchase. You must instead go to one of the many Hermès stores spread out around the globe. Do not anticipate seeing any Birkin bags for sale when you first enter the store. If a Birkin happens to be present—a rare occurrence—and the SA decides you are worthy, you will be invited into a private room. A champagne glass and a single bag will be brought to you by a gloved SA from the back. If you’re extremely lucky, there might be two or three bags available.

Can you order a Birkin bag from the shop if none are available? No. Except if you are a Hermès VIP who has been specially invited to custom order a Horseshoe Stamp bag, there is no way to order a Birkin bag in the size, color, leather, and hardware of your choice. While loyal clients occasionally ask their SAs for a particular Birkin, most requests are either ignored or require years to be met.

That said, you can always purchase vintage Hermès pieces from reputable sources (like Moda Operandi) and auction houses like Sothebys, Vestiaire Collective, 1stDibs, Hardly Ever Worn It, and Collector Square. Be prepared with questions and find their favorite color, size, leather, and style. Private appointments with the team and sharing videos can ensure clients’ confidence.

When buying a new Hermès style, it’s best to contact stores and boutiques for assistance. Be patient, as it may take months or years for the right style to become available.

How to Buy a Hermès Bag at a Hermès Store

Getting to know a certain Hermès Sales Associate is the first step in the process. Numerous things are eventually feasible when a SA is on your side. When a new cargo is received, you might be informed. Your SA might even place a hold on a Birkin bag for you if they have a really strong relationship with you.

You must initially locate a sales associate who is ready and willing to help you when you enter the business. In a perfect world, a friend or family member would introduce you to someone they know. If not, it is essentially random and can prevent you from eventually purchasing a Birkin.

Make certain to:

  • If at all feasible, wear Hermès when visiting the boutique.
  • Show an understanding of the Birkin in particular as well as the full Hermès brand.
  • Ideally, make purchases with the same SA at the same Hermès store.
  • Compile a history of your purchases. Even though you are not have to buy an item with each visit, doing so will help you get closer to being able to purchase a Birkin bag in the future.
  • So that you don’t seem to be interested in just obtaining a Birkin bag, buy from a variety of Hermès products. Think about getting scarves, belts, jewelry, clothing that is ready to wear, makeup, etc.

You are assured a contented SA but may not get a Birkin bag unless you have properly proven your passion for the entire Hermès line with numerous purchases across numerous departments. But it’s been claimed with confidence that if you spend a cool six figures or more at a Hermès shop, you might be able to get your hands on certain VIP-only bags. There is no assurance the bag of your fantasies will exist, even if you manage to unlock the Birkin purchasing code. It can be a different size, color, or type of leather from the Birkin you had in mind.

Since the Birkin was first released in 1984, it has undergone numerous iterations with the aid of leathers, exotic skins, and limited production runs. Hermès’s oldest leather and a heritage leather, calfbox, was utilized for the bag’s initial production. Birkins have an extra glitzy appearance thanks to the incredibly smooth surface of this leather. Although the fabric is prone to watermarks and scratches, over time these flaws disappear into the bag and give it a mirror-like quality. Your calfbox Birkin should be kept out of the weather and lightly buff any flaws to make them disappear into the leather if you want to keep it in good condition.

The most long-lasting and typically most well-liked leather from Hermès is togo leather. Togo calfskin leather was first produced in 1997 and is called for the African nation of Togo. This leather is the result of a lengthy pounding process that highlights the material’s inherent characteristics. Togo is a flexible, matte substance that gradually gets shinier and softer. It has a rounded, uneven texture with visible veins and wrinkles. A significant benefit for both collectors and those looking for a long-lasting Hermès purse is the material’s scratch resistance.

Clemence, made of cowhide, is another type of regular Birkin leather. In comparison to Togo, this leather is heavier, softer, and less resilient. Inevitably, Clemence Birkins sag with age. The matte appearance of Clemence is caused by its shallow granular texture. With no attempt to disguise their age, Clemence leather Birkin bags offer a casual air.

Epsom leather, which is incredibly firm and will maintain the shape of the Birkin despite years of use, is Clemence’s antithesis. Epsom is an embossed leather, thus it lacks a natural grain and has no inherent water or scratch resistance, making it simple to clean. Epsom leather is a highly useful material.

Fjord leather, like Epsom, is exceptionally resilient as well as waterproof, soft, matte, and hefty.

A wide range of “forever” hues are available in Evercolor leather, which gives a Birkin its softness. This material, which debuted in 2012, is satiny with a printed modest, regular grain. The Barenia Faubourg calfskin, first used by Hermès in 2016, is a brand-new heritage leather alternative. To the touch, it feels waxy and has a minutely printed texture. The handled areas of this leather will become darker. Every shade of the color wheel is represented in the secondary market for Hermès leather Birkins. Each year, Hermès only makes a limited number of color variations of the Birkin. Birkins can be customized to fit the unique personalities of each wearer thanks to the range of Hermès leathers.

Sellier Birkin Bag

The limited edition Hermes Birkin Bag Sellier made its debut in 2010 and was resurrected in 2020. Unlike the Birkin Sellier, which has stitching on the outside, the traditional Hermés Birkin bags feature stitching on the inside. The Retourne, a traditional style, is less structured than the Birkin Sellier. Compared to the stitching on the outside, the stitching inside the bag gives the bag a more relaxed appearance. Since it is less likely to lose its shape than the typical non-exotic Birkin bags, the Birkin Sellier may also be a superior design for humid climates.

Comparable to the classic Birkin bag, the interior space is fairly large. The corners might be more prone to getting scratched in congested locations, which is the only potential drawback to the more structured form. Even though the Sellier Birkin’s retail cost is just somewhat higher than the traditional Birkin’s, the bag typically fetches a greater price on the secondary market due to its significantly reduced supply.

Exotic Birkin Bag

Birkin bags are also available in exotic skins like ostrich, lizard, crocodile, and alligator skins, with glossy or matte finishes. Exotic materials used to make Birkin bags are said to be more uncommon and expensive than leather because of their exclusivity. Niloticus and Porosus crocodiles are the two varieties of this most expensive of exotic materials. In addition to the Hermés logo stamp, Niloticus and Porosus crocodile handbags will be identified by the symbols “••” and “^” respectively.

The Himalayan Birkin, the priciest Hermès Birkin, is made of Niloticus crocodile skin that has been colored in a white and grey gradient. The hues are meant to resemble the Himalayan Mountains’ pristine white snow. The next most expensive exotic skins are those of the alligator, which differs from crocodiles in that its plates are larger and less uniform, plusher to the touch, and poreless. The Hermès logo stamp is surrounded by a tiny square that denotes alligator skin. Smaller bags and other small leather goods are typically the only items that employ lizard skin. Hermès often uses the fabric for the Birkin 25, which is the smallest Birkin bag.

Since pigments may be readily absorbed by skin, lizard Birkins come in a wide variety of vibrant hues. This pricey skin has two variations, just like crocodile. The “-” sign adjacent to the Hermès logo stamp designates the Niloticus lizard, whereas the “=” sign designates the Varanus Salvator lizard. The most affordable and long-lasting exotic material is ostrich, which is also the most durable. Hermès has been using this material since the 1920s. The follicles, the sites from which the feathers grow, which serve as a telltale sign of this skin’s distinctive dual tone.

Hermès flattens the follicles and triples the skin to prevent follicle damage. This substance takes up oils and darkens with time in areas that are often handled. This material comes in a variety of vibrant colours, much like lizard. There is no distinctive insignia embossed on ostrich skin bags.

Difference between a Kelly and a Birkin bag?

The Kelly bag, renamed after Grace Kelly, gained fame after being introduced to it on the set of Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief in 1956. The Hermès Birkin, named after Jane Birkin, was inspired by a conversation between the late actress and Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas during an Air France flight in the ’80s. Dumas suggested the Birkin have pockets, which Birkin agreed to. In exchange for an early model of the bag in 1984, Birkin sketched a prototype on a sick bag, which nodded to both the Kelly and her partner Serge Gainsbourg’s suitcase. Both bags have different hardware closures, with the Birkin having two handles and a strap for cross-body wear. Both bags are made using the finest Hermès craftsmanship. Tony Freund, editorial director of 1stDibs, suggests that the Birkin is a better everyday bag due to its less structured design, while the Kelly has a more classic presence and is suitable for special occasions.

Is an Hermès bag an investment?

According to girl math, it is in terms of cost per wear. However, in the resale market, since the handbag market is influenced by supply and demand, with rare and valuable pieces like Hermès Birkin and Kelly attracting collectors, your Hermes bag can be resold for a higher price. It is also important to note that the condition of the bag is crucial, as it determines the value of an investment. Hence, maintaining a pristine Hermès bag ensures its value remains for years.

Which Hermès bag has ever sold for the most money?

In 2016, a 2008 Birkin made from white Himalaya crocodile with 18-karat white gold and diamond hardware was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong’s 30th anniversary auction for £208,175. The following year, a similar Birkin from 2014 sold for £293,000. In 2022, Sotheby’s sold a Diamond Himalaya Birkin 30 for over $450,000. The most expensive Birkin sold on 1stDibs was $225,000, while the most expensive Kelly was $134,000. The most expensive piece currently listed on Vestiaire Collective is a Birkin 35 crocodile bag with silver accents.

How do you look after an Hermès bag?

Store the item at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. If you have the original box, keep it inside. If not, use a dust bag. Keep the bag covered when not in use. Avoid hanging by handles or strap. Stuff the item with tissue paper, air pockets, or bubble wrap, but don’t overstuff to maintain shape.

Read More: Here’s How to Take Care of Your Handbag, According to Experts

When using valuable pieces, treat them carefully and store bags in their original packaging. Empty them with a soft material like a pillow, bubble wrap, or tissue paper. If the piece came with a dust bag and box, store it in its original packaging.

Store your bag away from heat and rain, use padding to prevent deformation, and always seek repair or restoration from brand workshops to maintain its authenticity.

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